Thursday, May 16, 2019

Our 20th Season

It has been 20 years since Virgil Schwanke opened the museum to the public to share his collection of tractors, trucks, and cars.

We are busy preparing the museum for the 2019 season, which begins Saturday, May 18.

The museum entrance has moved to the tractor parts sales area at the west end of the museum building, inside the security fence. 

Museum hours are:
Monday-Friday: 9 am to 4 pm
Saturday: 9 am to noon. 

If you have questions about the museum, or making a reservation for your group, please give us a call at 320-235-4341 or 800-537-5582.



Welcome Friends.
Today I am just going to introduce the Museum to you with just a little history.
The Schwanke Museum first opened it's doors to the public in 1999 at the time the collection was not as big as it is now, but it still was impressive. Today the museum host over 200 tractors, over a hundred different Car, Trucks, Large and Small Gas and Diesel engines.

 Virgil Schwanke bought his first car at the ripe age of 15. A 1926 Ford model T coupe which is featured as you walk into the main part of the museum. On this blog I will try to feature one car, tractor, or truck per week. I will also try to give a brief history of how the museum acquired the vehicle if I can but I will give a history of the car just so you know what it is, where it was made, and if we restored the vehicle.

If you have any questions I would love to try and help answer any that you may have.
You will have to forgive my photographic skills I don't have a camera so I use my cell phone camera.

Thank you.

In memory of Virgil Schwanke

Schwanke Museum founder Virgil Schwanke passed away May 14, 2017.  We want to honor his memory by sharing his life information.  His desire to preserve the cars and trucks of the past will be shared with future generations.

The Schwanke Museum is now starting its 20th season.  

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Starting our Spring cleaning

We are still waiting for warmer weather to arrive so we can start our spring cleaning to get the museum open for the 2019 season.  It will be great to offer expanded hours for people to visit the museum this year!  We have been going through our inventory of antique gasoline engines and offering for sale the duplicates of models we already have on display in the museum.  You can find more information about these engines in the Equipment Listings section at

Many customers have browsed through our gift shop this winter since it moved to the tractor parts end of the building and is open the same hours as the parts sales area. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dempster 210F pump with Duplex 55 pump jack and Lauson TLC-349 engine

We have just completed restoration of a Dempster model 210F well water pump which has a Duplex model 55 pump jack and added a restored 1946 Lauson TLC-349 engine to power it. 

Dempster model 210F Pump

Dempster pumps were manufactured by the Dempster Mill Mfg Company.

The Dempster company was founded by Charles B. Dempster in 1878 in Beatrice Nebraska.  It was incorporated as the Dempster Mill Manufacturing Company in 1886.  Dempster Mill Manufacturing company produced a variety of water well equipment including windmills, pumps, well drilling machines, flywheel type gasoline engines, water tanks, and agricultural equipment.

The company was purchased by Warren Buffet in 1960, sold to a group of investors in 1963, and sold to a private investor in 1985.  It closed in 2011, with the assets purchased by Ryan Mitchell in 2013 and continues to operate now as Dempsters, LLC.  The company currently offers lines of submersible pumps, windmills & wind energy, water systems, recycling trailers, and fertilizer equipment. 

Duplex Model 55 Pump Jack

The Duplex Manufacturing Company was a Wisconsin company which manufactured and sold farm water supply items which included windmills, steel towers, and water tanks.  The origins of the company name came from a windmill designed and built by the Lake City Tool Company of Madison, Wisconsin which could pump water and grind grain at the same time, and the 1882 patent was designated as a Duplex Windmill.
Duplex was known for their wooden blade vaneless windmills.
Duplex was in operation from 1891-1985
The Duplex model 55 pump jack can be fastened to a hand well pump to convert it to powered operation, with the power supplied by either a gasoline engine or electric motor.

Lauson TLC-349 Engine

The Lauson Manufacturing  Company of New Holstein Wisconsin was founded by John Lauson in 1895 after John’s brother Henry who had been working for a gasoline engine manufacturing company in Chicago joined the company.  John had been in business with his uncle repairing and manufacturing steam tractors, and John bought out his uncle’s interest in the company in 1891.  The first Lauson engine was built in 1895, and was a 4 HP, 4-cycle tank cooled engine weighing 1140 pounds.

Lauson built farm tractors starting in 1915 including a number of models from the 15-30 in 1917-18 to the four cylinder 230-35 & 20-40 and the six cylinder 25-45.  The tractor line ended in the 1930’s as sales slumped due to the depression and farmers defaulted on payments.

The TLC-349 is a 2.3 horsepower, 8.95 cubic inch L-head engine with a 2-1/4” bore and 2-1/4” stroke.  The TLC-349 was manufactured from 1937 until 1951, and from serial number records, we believe this engine was manufactured in 1946.  It was recently restored, and is a very smooth running engine.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Museum Update

With new snowfall records being set in much of Minnesota this winter, we are all hoping for an early start to warmer weather this spring, or asking ourselves, "Why didn't I go to a warmer climate for at least part of the winter?"

The Schwanke Museum staff has been working on some updates as well as making plans for some additional improvements before the museum opens in May.

Our gift shop has been moved from the east end of the museum building to the west end in an area of the tractor parts sales area, and is now open year around.  The entrance is through the tractor parts/shop area inside  the fence.  If you are in need of a gift for a tractor or car collector, or looking for something for your collection, stop by and check out our selection of gift items.   

The gift shop hours are now:
Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm
Saturday 8 am to noon.

Be sure to follow the blog to keep up to date on new things happening this spring.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run

Our museum was visited last week by about 80 people who were in the area for the 32nd Annual New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run which took place on Saturday, August 11.  The grand run of 120 miles is patterned after the London to Brighton car run in England which had its first run in 1896 and is the longest running motoring event in the world. 

Each year the group for the New London to New Brighton run enjoyes some shorter pre tour runs enjoying the area around New London and getting their cars ready for the main event on Saturday.  We were piviliged to be included on their list of pre tours this year.  There were cars from many different states as well as some from Canada taking part in this year's event.

It is nice to see all of their historic cars still in operation.  To qualify for the run, cars must be 1908 or older of any engine type, and up to 1915 one or two cylinder models.  There were about 60 cars in the run this year.  

I enjoyed being able to take photos of a few of  the vehicles and visit with their owners about the cars.  It was interesting to talk to the owners of the Stanley Steamer and learn a bit about that car.  This was the first time I had ever seen one in operation.  They said that the car can only go about 30 miles until it is time to refill the boiler with water, (or sometimes less miles than that if they waste too much steam blowing the whistle.)  The car was designed to burn kerosene to produce the steam, but the owners said they try to use jet airplne fuel which is similar to kerosene, but more hightly refined and burns cleaner.

We look forward to future car run groups coming to the museum.

1906 Cadillac

1905 Columbia

Stanley Steamer